Sea Cliff History

Gaslight & Gingerbread – Charles E. Ransom

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A Photographic Recollection of Old Sea Cliff

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Home for Convalescent Babies, dedicated in 1897, was erected through popular subscription. It was replaced by St. Christopher’s Home in 1931

“Gaslight and Gingerbread – A Photographic Recollection of Old Sea Cliff” by the Honorable Charles E. Ransom was originally published in 1971.

His friends respectfully called him “Charlie”. His grandchildren called him “Pop” or later “Poppie.”

My grandfather lovingly worked on this project for a number of years before publication. They say his memory for people and events was excellent and it is evident in this book.

One item I will never forget is an old cylinder recorder that worked the way the old gramophone disc players worked, but in reverse. The “needle” at the end of a long “speaking tube” “cut” the sound into a wax cylinder that was about 2″ around and 6″ wide. His dictation was later played back and typed by a stenographer.

Maypole dance at the May Party in Clifton Park, circa 1914.

Maypole dance at the May Party in Clifton Park, circa 1914.

At the end of the process that began with that old technology, you can now use the latest technologies from anywhere on Planet Earth and find the materials that are now on this web site. Pop would have liked that a lot.

The Sea Cliff Seperate Company, so named to distinguish it from the National Guard, was a very popular organization about 1910. This picture shows the company on parade. The leader was Henry Hollman, who later became the district's Assemblyman in the State Legislature.

The Sea Cliff Separate Company, so named to distinguish it from the National Guard, was a very popular organization about 1910. This picture shows the company on parade. The leader was Henry Hollman, who later became the district’s Assemblyman in the State Legislature.

My grandfather was a politician who never lost an election. He was known as being “historical-minded” while at the same time he was also known as being “forward thinking”. During his term as Clerk of the County of Nassau, he gave Xerox one of their first very big projects when he instituted a new microfilm database system to track driver’s licenses. This sytem was later adopted nationally. It was one of the first big steps at the very beginning of our current “Information Technology.”

My grandfather was a Navy-man, having served aboard a mine-sweeper in World War II. His son, my Uncle Chuck, is an Annapolis graduate.

The Sea Cliff Separate Company, circa 1910.

The Sea Cliff Separate Company, circa 1910.

From the time I was born until I myself joined the U. S. Navy, he was perhaps the closest friend I had and the greatest aid in getting me “back on track” as was so often necessary. He really helped me a lot, as he helped so many others in and around Sea Cliff through The Depression and World War II.

My grandfather’s Sea Cliff was the most popular summer resort of New York City and Long Island Sound for a number of years. People thronged to Sea Cliff in very large numbers. It seems that just about everyone made at least one trip to Sea Cliff around the turn of the century. There was a tremendous amount of both dynamic activity and quite peacefulness in Sea Cliff during the Summer Season as you will see in this web site. To me, it looks like they really had a lot of fun.

The Sea Cliff Seperate Company Drum Corps, circa 1910.

The Sea Cliff Separate Company Drum Corps, circa 1910.

Most importantly, “Gaslight and Gingerbread – A Photographic Recollection of Old Sea Cliff” by Charles E. Ransom is available in book form. This web site contains only a small number of the photographs along with my grandfather’s captions and descriptions.

It’s really a delightful book that I must say I appreciate much more now than I did when this book was released. That’s because my grandfather is now gone, a couple more generations have passed, and I am now a grandfather, as well.

I haven’t been in Sea Cliff in many years, but for myself, I couldn’t ask for a better town to grow up in and I sure could not ask for a better grandfather.

Thanks, Pop. Here’s your web site.

Love, Jim


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